The same day of my egg retrieval a procedure called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection is performed. This is commonly know as ICSI (pronounced: ICK-see). The idea is simple and I can only imagine how this procedure came about. Probably two teenagers in labcoats in their parents/ basement were playing around with mice eggs and said, "I wonder what would happen if we took a small needle, put a sperm in it and injected it into an egg [insert teenage giggle]." That's really all the procedure is. Of course you need a REALLY tiny needle and a REALLY powerful microscope.
First, the sperm is washed and the andrologist (sperm-handler) gives the strongest and best sperm the chance to swim up, against gravity. Those sperm are then inspected for quality (ie, not swimming in circles, not having 2 heads, etc) and then one sperm is drawn into the needle. The head of the sperm is closest to the opening of the needle, as it would normally enter the egg, head-first.
The embryologist takes an eggs, holds it with a pipette....all of this is done under a microscope, obviously....takes the needle and pokes through the outer layer of the egg and inserts the sperm inside.
I found a funny video on this. There's lots of these on YouTube, but I chose this one on humor factor alone:
After the egg and sperm meet, it's all up to the embryo whether it will become fertilized. I should mention that ICSI is done on day 0 and fertilization occurs on day 1. If fertilization happens, and we hope that it does, the egg/embryo will look like this:
See the two circles in the middle of the egg? Those are called polar bodies. Still, the cells have not begun to divide, so it looks kind of boring at this point.
Now, to make it a bit more personal. Of my 19 eggs, 16 were ICSI'ed. I'm not sure what rationale is given as to whether or not an egg is ICSI'ed, but I would presume it has to do with maturity of the egg.
The fertilization rate at my clinic is 50%, so I would expect 8 of my eggs to fertilize. Lucky for us, my eggs + G's sperm are already over-achievers, because we have 10 fertilized eggs!
Now we wait till tomorrow when we learn if any of those have begun cell-division. We're wanting 4-cell embryos tomorrow, and lots of them.